Sailing: Sea change for funding will help Olympic assault

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In what he described as the biggest change ever in the funding of our sport, Rod Carr, racing manager of the Royal Yachting Association, yesterday unveiled a rolling programme of cash support from the national lottery as part of the World Class Performance Plan.

An initial pounds 1.1m will be pumped into the elite squad for both overseas competition and subsistence funding for the competitors in the year to 1 July 1998 with plans already submitted for the following three years. There will also be grants for sports science and medicine.

As sailing will not be included in any inland-based British Academy of Sport, nine existing regional centres will be promoted to sports specific sailing academies, with major funding already announced for Plymouth and Pwllheli.

The funding will be concentrated on Olympic and Youth World Championship classes. The aim, said Carr, will be turn additional funding into medals. For the sailors there will be a mix of direct cash support, means tested and based on a notional basic pounds 16,000 a year, and equipment cost support. The funding of overseas competition will come out of a basic fund of pounds 800,000.

While the tax position of the athletes is not yet clear, they will sign joint contracts with the Royal Yachting Association and the UK Sports Council, with whom the grant has been negotiated. Carr was keen to emphasise that the funding was expandable, and that other athletes who meet the qualification criteria would be added.

The RYA is expected to play its part in promoting the UKSC, but the athletes will not be obliged to be involved in that programme. Some additional programmes which have yet to receive UKSC approval are expected to be submitted again.

"This is a major improvement to the prospects of British yachting in the long term,'' said Carr, whose fight through bureaucracy has won high praise. "It is particularly important to those aspiring to Athens in 2004.''